Bowling Green fire chief reflects on destructive bushfires in his native Australia

Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 9:41 PM EST
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Australia's bushfires may be thousands of miles away from Northwest Ohio, but the impact is being felt in Bowling Green.

"It's the animals, it's the people that are suffering and ... it certainly breaks your heart just thinking about that," Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said.

Before moving to the United States, Moorman was living in his native Australia. He even served as a volunteer firefighter for seven years in his rural hometown of Mt. Beauty, Victoria, an area surrounded by the devastating fires.

"It's just a very sad time for Australia with these fires," Moorman said. "They're unprecedented fires that they've never seen these in the history of bushfires in Australia."

Since September, a number of bushfires have raged unchecked all across the southeastern part of the country. Officials say more than 15 million acres of land have been destroyed and at least 25 people have been killed in addition to more than one billion animals.

"It just broke my heart," Moorman said. "I just wanted to go back and help."

Chief Moorman says even his own family was forced to evacuate as the fires drew near.

"My brother has a farm in Australia," Moorman said. "So he actually stayed back to defend the farm from the fires."

Fortunately, the bushfires never reached his brother's doorstep, but Moorman says the concern about what could happen is still there.

"I find myself just constantly watching television, getting on the internet, corresponding with my family via some type of social media," Moorman said.

While storms have quenched some of the flames, the fires continue to burn, and natives like Moorman are hoping to see it all end soon.

"The magnitude is just a little overwhelming for everybody," Moorman said.